Hepatitis C in 2020: What Does Awareness Mean Today?

May is Hepatitis C Awareness Month! Each year, we recognize Hepatitis C Awareness Month, and the realities and challenges of living with hepatitis C. Today, almost 4 million Americans are living with hepatitis C. To better understand their experiences, we asked our HepatitisC.net advocates, "In 2020, what does hepatitis C awareness mean to you? How has hep C awareness changed over the years?".

Check-out their responses, or comment below to share your own opinions!

From Connie

"Hepatitis C awareness is being educated on what hepatitis C, how it effects the body, how it’s contracted, and the importance of testing and early treatment. It is also being aware of what harms and hurts your liver. Over the years, information and education about hepatitis C have become more prevalent. Television ads, online resources and social media have made hepatitis C information more available to the general public."

From Daniel

"We have made progress on hep C on many fronts. Information on hep C has become easily available, treatments continue to improve and, in the US, treatment is widely available, though still very expensive. On the other hand, because many people now go to the internet for information, it can be confusing and at times, dangerous. Many web pages haven’t been fact checked and give false or unverified information. When comparing sites, information can be contradictory, resulting in confusion for those with little knowledge of the disease. I don’t think the stigma surrounding hep C has decreased, in fact, it may have increased. As hepatitis awareness expands, more people understand the seriousness of it and most associate hep C with drug use. The stigma surrounding intravenous drug use is as potent as it has been historically, thus mentioning hep C today often triggers immediate and strong assumptions and stigmatization."

From Daryl

"There was a time when my own focus, and the focus of many others who were involved in raising awareness about hep C, was mostly about getting tested. The focus of our attention was with the largest affected population - Baby Boomers. This was, however, NOT the only population who needed to be better informed, and from day one, my own mantra was that it was about all people affected in all the higher risk populations. The position that we need more awareness for all the people at risk has not changed. One change has been to include new immigrants and residents from endemic countries, Indigenous People, and more focus on current substance users who are some of our most vulnerable people in society, with little or no housing and food security, or healthcare access."

From Emma

"The climate of hep C awareness in 2020 is something our hepatitis C advocate forefathers probably could have never imagined. With the rise of the information age and the internet, we are able to access quality information at the click of a button, and this applies to information about hep C. As I have just started my journey of hep C advocacy, I cannot effectively speak to the change in awareness over the years: but from my personal experience with the illness I can say that more physicians, nurses and other health professionals seem to be more aware of the virus. I have noticed that more and more people have become vocal and visible regarding their experiences with the illness and that is a key part of raising awareness. Today, for me, hepatitis C awareness means being visible, vocal, and immersing myself in hepatitis C education. The adage, "knowledge is power" is true and certainly in regard to my hepatitis C awareness. I am seeing more allies for hep C survivors that have not had the virus themselves and that, in my opinion, is a key to promoting awareness worldwide."

From Jessica

"In 2020, hepatitis C awareness means letting people know HCV is not a death sentence, or a "dirty disease". Hepatitis C happens & it is curable. Thankfully, where I live, treatment is now available to anyone who has hepatitis C, regardless of their circumstances. That is a huge change from three years ago when they were only treating people who met certain requirements."

From Karen

"From my perspective, hepatitis C awareness means getting practical information to those with hepatitis C. For example, by being aware, we’re all motivated to make better choices for our health and our future. We can offer best practices to those who need help and are unsure of how to get it. When I first began sharing my story about hep C, it was mostly to other people like myself. Baby Boomers were just discovering that they had hep C and many had advanced liver disease. While that is still true, now many new patients are younger, and they face a new set of problems getting tested. They are looking for support and encouragement to be cured of hepatitis C."

From Kim

"In 2020, the awareness for me is expanding the original target group of just Baby Boomers. Now they are recommending everyone be tested for hepatitis C; It has changed in the realm of target area ages and there are much more media coverage and commercials about hep C. People are hearing about it now and learning from broadcasts on TV, magazines, radio, etc."

From Sue

"Hepatitis awareness is the education of the public so that they may learn about the risk factors that put people at risk of having the disease as well as transmitting it. It provides an opportunity for self-reflection. Today, there is more knowledge about the disease and there is an emphasis on everyone getting a one-time test, no matter if they believe they have risk factors. There is now a cure for the vast majority of patients."

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